At 5:00 PM ET Monday the House will reconvene to vote on the rules for how the 118th Congress will operate – discussions which consumed now-Speaker Kevin McCarthy and his top lieutenants last week as they wheeled and dealed to get him the gavel. Few know all the details of what McCarthy gave away to win the coveted Speaker’s seat, but it took five days, 15 different votes, some last-minute begging, and a Republican-on-Republican near-fist-fight on the floor of the House of Representatives before he was able to cinch the deal.
But not included in that 55-page document, according to PunchBowl News, is a “secret three-page addendum that McCarthy and his allies hashed out during several days of grueling negotiations with the House Freedom Caucus.”
Punchbowl News’ John Bresnahan on MSNBC Monday afternoon told Katy Tur that the “really controversial” secret three-page addendum is being “circulated” among some House Republicans but none are allowed to keep a copy, and it is not being released publicly. Presumably no Democrat has been shown the document.
The secret addendum, PunchBowl News also reported, “includes the most controversial concessions McCarthy made in order to become speaker – three seats on the Rules Committee for conservatives, freezing spending at FY2022 levels, a debt-ceiling strategy, coveted committee assignments and more.”
Indeed, while some House Republicans have claimed they were not given anything to vote for or to not vote against McCarthy, Rep. Byron Donalds (R-FL), who placed third in the race for Speaker, admits he traded his slim prospect of becoming Speaker for a seat on powerful House GOP Steering Committee. Indeed, his name is the last one on the list.
One of there most controversial parts of the rules package is the creation of a“select subcommittee on the weaponization of the federal government,” which would investigate the Department of Justice’s current criminal investigations into the January 6, 2021 insurrection.
Some familiar with the U.S. Constitution’s separation of powers provisions suggest they cannot do this.
“This idea of ‘reviewing’ criminal cases in progress is really about interfering with them,” tweets former U.S. Attorney Joyce Vance. She notes, “it violates separation of powers. MAGA Republicans know this. They’re setting up a situation where the AG will properly refuse to provide info, which they’ll use as a pretext to impeach.”
Norman Ornstein, an emeritus scholar at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), and a contributing editor for The Atlantic, calls it “a test for these so-called centrist Republicans. If they vote for this horrible rules package, they are complicit in radical, dangerous extremism. Never, ever call them moderates or reasonable.”
MSNBC’s Steve Benen reports some of the deals McCarthy made, presumably which appear either in the 55-page rules agreement or in the secret three-page addendum, include a “Motion to vacate the chair,” and three seats on the Rules Committee going to the far right.
More bad news, not just for McCarthy and the U.S. but the world economic system.
“McCarthy reportedly agreed to pursue a hostage crisis that would force the country into a possible default, while scrapping the so-called Gephardt rule, which allows the Congress to suspend, rather than lift, the debt limit.”
It’s not certain McCarthy will get the rules package passed, certainly not certain it will pass on the first round of voting.
“Republican @RepNancyMace told me yesterday that she’s considering withholding her vote on the Rules package until she gets more information about the handshake agreements that Speaker McCarthy made with members but hasn’t yet disclosed,” reports CBS News’ Margaret Brennan.
\u201cWill GOP Rep. Nancy Mace vote on Monday in favor of the proposed House rules package? \u201cI am on the fence right now,\u201d she said.\u201d— Face The Nation (@Face The Nation) 1673212939
The Freedom Caucus, which is the beneficiary of many of these “really controversial” secret rules, is the most far-right caucus in Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA), reportedly under investigation by the FBI for his role in the January 6, 2021 insurrection. Perry refused to comply with a subpoena from the House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack. Perry on Sunday announced he would not recuse himself from serving on the House Judiciary Committee, which has oversight responsibility of the DOJ and FBI, despite being investigated by them.
Reprinted with permission from Alternet.